i Editor's Letter: A British sporting triumph


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The Independent Online


We splash on a good news story today; a sports story that is unequivocally a British sporting triumph. I'm the first to recognise how rare that is — not just for i, but for most papers, especially the "serious" ones. Why should that be?

Occasionally, readers write in to ask that very question. No one really ponders it too hard in public. The much admired, white-suited former BBC war correspondent Martin Bell briefly became a figure of fun when he thought it out loud.

I guess the answer lies hidden in our understanding of what's "serious". Is it always a bigger story when unemployment, crime, homelessness or waiting times rise rather than fall? When politicians, corporate executives, actors, sporting team-mates fall out, isn't it more interesting than when they agree? Is war and violence inherently of more interest than peace and harmony?

As is seen clearly in the difference between temperate weather and a tornado or flooding, the answer is "yes". That's because in theory, the "normal" state of affairs is not noteworthy; it is —in most places, on most days — relative peace, harmony and, until recently in the West, affluence.

For me, sport and culture (and food and family) are the grace notes of modern life, the stuff that lifts the day-to-day beyond the mundane,and makes it all worth it. Cycling at full pelt in summer heat up and down mountains, covering 2175 miles in 23 days is not "normal" by anyone's reckoning; not my idea of fun. To win the race is one of the greatest feats in all sport (just to finish is amazing enough). For a Brit to win for the first time in the 99th Tour is beyond remarkable.

We should congratulate Sky for its investment, and Cavendish, Froome and Wiggins for giving the nation a real lift when it was needed. And, what a heartwarmingly normal victory speech. Roll on the Mall next Saturday. Until then, remember, The Only Way is Ennis.